Random Thoughts On The Indianapolis 500
First of all, I apologize for not having this post up here first thing this morning. Being the old man that I am, the long day caught up with me after getting up at 4:15 yesterday to get inside the track early.
As I typed on Sunday night, I was in our Indianapolis hotel also trying to watch the replay of the race. It was about Lap 20 when we got to the room. The last I remember it was Lap 87, when I realized I was dozing off while trying to type. I figured anything I typed would sound incoherent, so I put it aside and went to bed.
I’m still kind of in awe of what I saw. The last eight laps were almost surreal. You knew if they didn’t take each other out – that this was coming down to either Ryan Hunter-Reay or Helio Castroneves. Both drivers did all they could to win. only one could and it was Hunter-Reay.
John McLallen, my cohort on One Take Only seems to think that Helio Castroneves was a drama queen after the race. I disagree. Try laying it all out for a chance to win the Indianapolis 500 and become only the fourth four-time winner in history and coming up just few feet short and see how you act when the race is over. Quite honestly, I thought Helio showed great restraint when being interviewed on the PA.
But what a great race at the end!
TV Coverage: Obviously, by being at the race – I was not privy to seeing the ABC coverage of the race. As mentioned, I did see about sixty-five laps of the local delayed broadcast last night. But I was trying to type and I was so tired that I didn’t pay close attention. Hopefully the DVR worked and I’ll be able to watch it in the next couple of days.
The Red Flag: It seems that the popular sentiment among almost everyone is the IndyCar made the right call to stop the race in order to try and get a green-flag finish; since there had not been one since 2009 (technically, Dan Wheldon’s 2011 victory ended under yellow). Given the circumstances that repairs needed to be made for safety reasons, I was OK with it. But had it been normal cleanup from a crash – I’m not as onboard as most seem to be. To me, it flirts dangerously close to a green-white-checker used in NASCAR to extend and manipulate the finishes of races. As it turned out, the finishing order was the same among Helio Castroneves and Ryan Hunter-Reay as it was for the red-flag.
But just because a crash happens in the final ten laps of a race, does not mean the red flag needs to come out. That’s a time when drivers are pushing hardest to make something happen. Crashes are likely to occur in that time. And yes – I will revert to the logic of “it’s always been that way”. What if they did that last year after Dario Franchitti crashed late in the race? Tony Kanaan might still be looking for that first win and Ryan Hunter-Reay may be celebrating back-to-back victories this morning. I’m much more in favor of letting the race play out and letting the yellows fall where they may. I’m aware that I’m in the vast minority on this; but that’s how I feel.
Jim Nabors Farewell: I really liked the way The Speedway handled this. There was a card-section over in the Tower Terrace telling Jim “Thank You”; but from our seats in Stand A, you couldn’t read it. I trust that it showed up on television. But there was not an over-the-top acknowledgement that this was his last one. Just a few extra phrases from PA announcer Dave Calabro thanking Jim and letting him know that he’ll always be a part of the lore that is the Indianapolis 500. His singing did not disappoint and I was thankful that the fans around us treated the moment with the respect it deserved. Good job all the way around.
Fan Behavior: Most of the time when people discuss fan behavior at races, it conjures up images of slobbering drunks throwing up or picking fights. That wasn’t happening in my section. Most were well-mannered and behaved. That is, except for the guy in front of me. I’m not sure he said a word, but he was very annoying just the same. He was of the old-school – and I’m talking way more old-school than me.
He had a clipboard with one of the old scoring sheets from the sixties. He scored every driver on every lap. That was fine, but for whatever reason – he felt the need to stand up every lap when the field came by. I understand standing up when something exciting is happening – like the start of the race, the end of the race, an exciting pass or a crash. But to stand up when the leaders are crossing the finish line each lap is a bit much. Consequently, this was my view throughout much of the race.
Pippa’s Run: I’m hoping that ABC had at least a mention or an interview with Pippa Mann regarding her driving the pink Susan G. Komen car for the fight against breast cancer. I’ll promise you, no driver worked harder for their sponsor during the Month of May than Pippa did for this partnership. When she wasn’t in the car, she was everywhere trying to raise money and awareness for this cause.
She has a career best starting position of twenty-second and held that through her second pit-stop. After her second stop, she suffered a loose wheel and then the wheel nut on that wheel got stuck. She lost several laps while in the pits trying to solve the problem. Once the issue was resolved she went back out to fight and scrap all day, rather than just throwing in the towel and calling it a day. She clawed her way back up to finishing twenty-fourth.
After the race, she spotted me snapping pictures of her chatting it up with her crew in the Dale Coyne Garage. After all she had been through, she was kind enough to invite Susan and me into her garage for a quick visit. She admitted she was pretty well spent – especially her right arm from steering the car all day. But she was gratified that no one in her crew gave up after the incident in the pits. It seemed to be all-smiles in her garage. She was even willing to pos for a gratuitous photo of Yours Truly, as we talked.
Bubba’s Journey: If you’ll recall, a few weeks ago I wrote about an old college friend (Bubba) that bought my brother’s tickets for this year’s race. he had never been to an IndyCar race before. The Indianapolis 500 had been on his “to do” list for quite a while. Although Bubba and I had not seen each other in some twenty years, we caught up with each other before the race on the yard of bricks behind the Pagoda.
The look of amazement on his face was priceless. He had his two young boys and they looked in awe as well. You could tell they were having a blast and they had not seen the first lap yet. I spoke to him briefly after the race and he said it was everything he had hoped for…and more. Hopefully, we’ve snagged some future fans.
All in All: There are many, many facets to this race I haven’t touched on. Some will probably bring those to my attention, and that’s fine. We all have different things that stand out in our own minds. But ten years from now, when look back on this race, I’m going to think about the late race duel between the yellow cars. It was unbelievable!
Please note: As I mentioned yesterday – I will be taking a little break from here this week. I will probably throw some photos with comments on in a day or so. Plus, Susan has an interesting article she has worked hard on about some behind the scenes stuff with the guys at the IndyCar Racing Experience.
I’m not sure when either of these will be posted, so check back regularly. I hope I can also be excused if I do not have the normal “obligatory” preview for Belle Isle this Friday. This has been a tiring month and I want to rest up. I will be back in full-swing next week with a wrap-up of whatever transpires at Detroit.
Thanks for following along all month. It’s been very enjoyable. – GP